Some 450 MUHC employees have expressed an interest in moving so that they will be closer to their place of work, according to a study completed in 2001. Inner-city employers are also keen to keep their workers close, so they will arrive on time, even during snowstorms or transit strikes. People who live close to their place of work are also more likely to use public transit or their bikes to go to work, meaning fewer cars driven through the neighbourhood.
Development of social housing projects (like coop housing) in the community often face challenges due to the scarcity or high price of available land to build them. Also, many neighbourhoods are under pressure due to gentrification and the development and protection of an affordable housing stock is an important issue for the communities.
The City of Montreal wants to keep moderate income working families downtown, those making 40,000$ to 70,000$ per year, and to slow migration to Montreal’s suburbs. But keeping working families downtown shouldn’t push very low-income people out.
Against this backdrop, the CIQ and the MUHC have been working together to find ways and means to collaborate on housing initiatives that will both protect existing inner-city people and families, but invite hospital workers to find homes closer to their place of work.
Initiatives of the CIQ/MUHC partnership agreement regarding housing:
- The MUHC will support initiatives that mitigate any repercussions of the Glen site development on the housing market (non–‐monetary and indirect forms of support are possible).
- The MUHC will consider requests from the CIQ for a more active form of collaboration on housing in the future.
- The MUHC will support the development of off-site housing for hospital employees or other types of housing, in collaboration with the CIQ and its non-profit housing partners.
- The MUHC will consider collaborating on and/or supporting community initiatives that aim at maintaining and improving housing conditions for low-income and vulnerable populations.
- The MUHC and the CIQ agree to undertake discussions together with the City of Montreal in relation to workforce and affordable housing.
Some of the best examples we have seen, where major institutions collaborate with the community sector on housing, include:
Solin Hall protocol – 1989 – Montreal, QC
In 1989, McGill University and local community groups in St.-Henri, Montreal created an agreement that aimed to integrate an off-campus residence hall and the students into the community. Specific benefits of the agreement included:
- a $500,000 loan at favorable lending rates for social housing
- employment of local contractors in construction of the facility
- research and training services to local community organisations
Workforce Housing initiatives – 1989 – Chicago, Whistler, New Haven, and others.
Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), Connecticut, is a private non-profit teaching hospital which includes a tertiary referral center, the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital and the Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital.
YNHH have become active in shaping the housing situation in their community through a variety of programs which include a housing rehabilitation project, aimed at bringing 65 new housing units to the low-income Hill neighborhood near the hospital, as well as a modular home project, aimed at building 10 single-family modular homes to be targeted for families that make 80% or below the Area Median Income Level. Finally, the H.O.M.E. (Home Ownership Made Easier) Program offers up to $10,000 in forgivable loans to help full-time employees purchase a home in the city of New Haven.
Read more on YNHH’s programs here.
Cape Breton Labourers Development Company (CBLDC)
In 1987 three members of the executive committee of the International Labourers Union Local 1115 of Sydney, Nova Scotia established the nonprofit Cape Breton Labourers Development Company (CBLDC). The CBLDC was created in order to develop a fund (which would be financed by taxing union members 25 cents per hour of work, and later supported by interest free loans from a variety of lenders) which could be administered as benefits in case of death, disability, or retirement.
In an environment characterized by a depressed economy, where jobs are hard to come by and by no means stable, the potential ability to purchase a house (or even a condominium) was far out of reach for many of the union’s members. Therefore, if benefits were not required at any time, the funds would be made available to members in the form of interest free loans through a housing construction fund. This fund would finance the construction of affordable homes for members of the union, thus encouraging and facilitating home ownership for a population which would otherwise be hard-pressed to find stable housing.